September 25, 2012

Ricotta Cheese

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My family husband is not a big fan of ricotta cheese and its grainy texture which comes from the industry's cost effective standard of adding gums and carrageenan thickeners instead of the time consuming separating the whey from the cheese.  After a little research I discovered that ricotta could be made at home without the addition of rennet, citric acid, lipase or the use of any other special cheese making equipment other than cheese cloth.  I was inspired by a lasagna my sister ate while traveling in Italy.  It wasn't the lasagna I grew up on where the portion is thick with layers of ricotta, sauce, meat and noodles which I do like but it is an all day affair to make the giant American version of lasgna.

Craving lasgna after I saw my sweet sister's delicious photo, I decided to make the ricotta cheese and use it on a quickly composed lasagna for dinner.  We spread the leftover ricotta on crackers, bagels and toast later in the week.  Its consistency was like cream cheese and it was very mild in flavor.  I imagine that the flavor would be more robust if local milk, goats milk, or raw milk were used in the recipe.  For me, it felt like a real accomplishment making homemade cheese even if it was so easy to make.

Ricotta Cheese
Makes 4 cups
1 gallon whole milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
¾ cup fresh lemon juice

Pour the milk into a large, nonreactive pot and season with salt.
Heat the milk to 190┬║ (use a candy thermometer), stirring it every few minutes to keep it from scorching on the bottom.
Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir slowly until you see curds beginning to form. (The curds form quickly after the addition of lemon juice).
Let the pot of curds and whey sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Double line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over another bowl to catch the whey.
Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour,
then discard the whey.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.


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I served a little extra ricotta on the side - yum.

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The Inspiration - My sister's lasagna in Northern Italy

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Heat milk to 190F

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I hung my cheese as it still seemed wet after the 1 hour in the strainer. 
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1 comment:

Bonnie said...

This is a great blog. Your dish looks very similar to mine when I was in Italy. I was pleasantly surprised to see the photo in there as well.